How to become a freelancer? It’s not a technical post, but very often, it’s related to IT people, as many of us are working as freelancers. Also, many of us think that our salary is low or projects are below our expectations. So some of us accept it, some will change a job or move abroad. I want to show you that there’s another way, I mean how to become a freelancer. I do not ask you to quit the job and move to your own business. Let me show you how to achieve this goal step by step. Usually, if we want to be a freelancer, we have to take care about everything by ourself: getting clients, payments, marketing, etc. And if we don’t have significant experience, or if we are not Bill Gates, or if he is not our father, it could look like a crazy idea!
In my case, how to become a freelancer, I have another idea. It’s not so impressive, but it will allow us to find out if we can be freelancers or look for a permanent job. The main point is the customer. You can be as unique as you want, but you have nothing if no one buys your services. Many freelancers before were working incorporation or big companies. They get their many contacts so they can work with them on their own after moving forward. Ok, but if we are not working in a big company or are not social people? Well, there’s a solution which I have used for several years.
Where to start working as Freelancer?
Right now, there are five leading websites on the market for freelancers. Of course, there could be something else, but they are for other groups like translators. If I missed something, please let me know in the comment:
1. Freelancer – I guess that it’s the biggest company on this market right now, and they are Australian company, not US. Since a few years they has taken control over many similar companies.
2. Elance – competitor from United States. They are running their websites for years. Right now they are in process of oDesk acquisitions
3. oDesk – another US based company, they become famous as first web site with hours projects. Right now they in the merger process with Elance
4. Upwork – It”s new company, merger of Elance and oDesk. We should see results soon.
5. Guru. One of the oldest web sites. There are not too many projects, but they are still running .
I want to highlight one thing. It’s not so easy as it looks. You have to know a few things to avoid losing money or your personal brand.
So how to become freelancer?
1. First of all. You don’t need paid account to start! All those companies have paid plans with different futures but believe me. You don’t need it at the begging! You can start with a free program, and if you discover that it’s something for you, you can get paid plan, so you will get the possibility to make more bids or highlight more skills. And I have one general rule. I don’t get paid plans If I do not earn money for it with the free program.
2. Never start a project until the client makes a milestone payment! That’s the main rule. I met many people on the market who want you to do their task without any cost for you. Every platform can request milestones for a project or a project part. When you make a bid, always require milestones before. Also, you have to remember about a currency of a project. For example, Freelancer has a lot of currencies. For instance, if your client is from Australia, the project will be calculated with AUD (Australian Dollar), different from American… Every platform has a different solution but believes me, sometimes it’s better to give up a unique and big project, but with just promised money. When you request a milestone, money will be transferred to the escrow account. The platform owner controls it, and even if the client makes some trouble for you, you have a chance to get your money.
And it’s related to the next point.
3. Project terms. Always and in detail describe project scope, terms, and steps. Sometimes customers ask you to make something beyond project scope without any additional money. Also, if the customer refuses to release money from the escrow, that information will be used between you and the client during a dispute. Freelance websites usually are on the customer side as they get money from them, but if everything is well documented, and the project scope has been fulfilled, they will not choose and release the money to you from the escrow account.
4. Communication to the client. This point is related to the previous one. A customer often asks you to chat/talk on Skype or other communicator or do the project via TeamViewer, etc. No problem. But you have to remember that everything you did there must also be put into the project room, without any delays. Without that, you already lose in case of any problems. You don’t have any proof of your progress.
5. Brand. Your name is your brand, and if you fail, it will stay with you for a long time. Sometimes it’s better to give up. Remember that there are people on the market who make very low bids even if they have no related skills. And after getting the project, they are trying to raise the bid amount, which makes the customer angry, and then a customer can come back to you. I had such cases before. Of course, when you start this business, you must make 2-3 projects at the begging with low bids to get some history, but without that, customers will not trust you with better-paid projects.
6. Customers. After some time, you will discover that you have some old clients. In this case, if you trust them, you can ask them to move out on your own. In this case, you can save a fee which is taken by the company from each dollar paid to you. And in this case, you can discover that PayPal is a great solution. For me, PayPal is the cheapest platform to get payments from clients as also from freelancer companies. Of course, you can also get your money directly to your bank account, but for me, a fee taken from currency conversion by a bank is worse than PayPal’s.
That’s the basics of how to become a freelancer. It will require some time to get money, it’s not for a one-month operation, and there’s also one crucial factor. You have to be very good at something. I am mean, REALLY good. There are thousands of IT guys on the market, but it could be challenging if you are looking for someone with high skills. And customers are ready to pay for it. So before you start, you have to be good at something, and then you can think about how to become a freelancer. And that’s why I focus on SharePoint/ Office 365. If you want to learn too many things, you will not know well any of them.
Also, I would like to highlight that it’s not always money. Based on my personal experience, it’s also essential that this approach allow you to get some fantastic experience, which is not possible in the case of permanent jobs. For example, I learned a lot about Microsoft Azure when I built for customer SharePoint farm in Azure. And it was very long ago. Good luck.